• Continued increase in the number of terrorist
attacks since 2007.
• The majority of incidents were arson attacks in
2009 while the use of IEDs dominated in 2008.
• Attacks using firearms increased in Greece
(from one in 2008 to four in 2009). One police
officer was killed and another was injured.
• Actions by anarchist groups are becoming more
violent and sometimes well planned.
• Violent clashes between right- and left-wing
7.1. terrorist attacks
Spain, Greece and Italy reported a total of 40 attacks by left-wing and anarchist groups for 2009. This constitutes an increase of 43 % compared to 2008; the number of attacks more than doubled since 2007.As in previous years, most attacks were carried out successfully and mainly targeted government and business interests. The majority of these attacks were arsons, reported by Spain, and caused only property damage. The percentage of IED attacks decreased from 43 % in 2008 to 20 % in 2009; the majority of these bombings occurred in Greece. In Greece, six left-wing terrorist organisations carried out a total of 15 attacks in 2009. Attacks using firearms increased from one in 2008 to four in 2009 , and can be attributed to the organisations Epanastatikos Agonas, Sekta Epanastaton and OPLA (Organoseis Proletariakis Laikis Aftoamynas). They mainly target police, governmental and business interests and use firearms and grenades in their attacks.
Sekta Epanastaton appeared for the first time in 2009 and claimed responsibility for an attack on 16 June 2009, in which a police officer was killed while on duty guarding the house of a witness involved in an investigation against Epanastatikos Agonas. The latter claimed responsibility for an attack on police officers on duty at the Ministry of Culture in Athens in January 2009. The attackers opened fire and threw a hand grenade, seriously injuring one officer.
The increase in Spain from 13 attacks in 2008 to 23 in 2009 can be attributed to anarchist groups with an important presence in the region of Cataluña. Following an internet support campaign for an imprisoned activist, attacks spread to other areas in the second half of 2009.The majority were arson attacks. 7 out of 23 attacks failed.
Italy reported two successful arson attacks targeting a political party’s head office in Rome. The attacks were part of a series of low-profile actions which occurred in Rome in 2009, claimed by the organisation Cellule di Resistenza Proletaria.
7.2. arrested suspects
A total of 29 persons were arrested in 2009 for left- wing and anarchist terrorism in six EU Member States: Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, and Spain. This is half of the number reported for 2008, when France arrested a high number of individuals linked to the dismantling of the French arm of the Turkish left-wing party DHKP-C.
The majority of those arrested were suspected of involvement in attacks and membership of a terrorist organisation. Almost 40 % were younger than 30. In France, one left-wing activist was killed and another one severely injured while handling sodium chlorate to manufacture an IED in a disused factory. A total of four people were arrested during the investigation.
A lengthy investigation in Italy, which resulted in the arrest of six suspects in June 2009, revealed the existence of a Marxist-Leninist subversive organisation mainly based in Rome, Genoa and Milan. The aim of its members was to re-launch armed struggle according to the strategy pursued by the Brigate Rosse.
In November 2009, several Italian newspapers received a 4-page leaflet entitled ‘A strategic resolution’, in which readers are invited to resume armed struggle. The document was sent by a previously unknown group, Nuclei di Azione Territoriale thought to be inspired by the Brigate Rosse. This confirms the activism of groups who are ideologically inspired by the Brigate Rosse in Italy.
Greece reported a total of five arrests, all related to the terrorist organisation Synomosia Pyrinon Fotias Athina-Thessaloniki. The investigation into a bomb attack on 23 September 2009 against the residence of a senior member of the Pasok political party resulted in the arrest of four individuals. They are suspected of being behind a series of bomb attacks.
In 2009, the trend of increasing activity by left-wing and anarchist extremists continued. Germany noticed a substantial increase in criminal offenses connected to left-wing and anarchist extremism, mainly property damage, with a marked increase in vehicle arsons.
After a quiet period of two years, the FAI (Federazione Anarchica Informale) claimed two attacks in Italy which targeted the director of the CIE (Centro di Identificazione ed Espulsione), and the Bocconi University in Milan.
Traditionally, anarchist extremists support a number of key ideological themes such as anti-capitalism, anti-militarism, anti-fascism and the ’No Borders’ campaign. The UK has seen a shift in direction in some anarchist protest activity during 2009. Extremists normally associated with the anarchist movement have shown support for environmental issues. Sweden also reported a change in focus towards climate change, house occupations and the migration issue.
Most actions by anarchist extremists are unprepared, impulsive acts committed by small groups. However, violent incidents in the French city of Poitiers on 10 October 2009 showed that these groups are also capable of leading quick and violent actions of street rioting, thereby targeting the law enforcement authority and properties representing governmental and economical power.
Similar tactics were observed in Belgium in two attacks against business interests. The French and Belgian cases appear to contradict the generally acknowledged impulsive nature of anarchist activities, in that they appear to have been well prepared in advance and organised down to the minutest details of their execution.
The most active left-wing extremist group in the Czech Republic, Antifašistická Akce, is known to organise training camps where martial arts, street- fighting tactics and ‘how to react against Police actions’ are practiced. Actions by anti-fascist groups against right-wing targets intensified in 2009. During recent election campaigns it was observed that demonstrators of UAF (Unite Against Fascism) in the UK showed a greater willingness to confront right-wing activists and the police. In Germany, a number of right-wing party candidates were violently attacked and injured, and vehicles of members or functionaries were burned.
During an anarchist campaign against right-wing political parties in Sweden, several elected politicians were physically attacked. On some occasions, these attacks were well prepared through surveillance of the targets. The ability of anarchist groups to translate violent ambitions into action seems to have grown stronger.
“Left-wing and anarchist terrorism” (TE-SAT 2010 Europol).